Previous Pollution News 2017-2020

2017     2018     2019

Activists Eye a Superfund Reboot Under Biden With a Focus on Environmental Justice and Climate Change 12-28-20

The EPA’s program for cleaning up the nation’s hazardous waste dumps has a backlog of sites that lack funding—the largest in 15 years. Read more at Inside Climate News

What California’s farmworkers can teach us during a season of giving 12-21-20

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of tiny 3-year-old Yair Basurto shuffling back and forth between a pile of grocery bags and a long line of cars waiting with open trunks. He and his father, Gonzalo, were loading food deliveries for farmworkers and other families in need in the parking lot of a Masonic temple in the coastal agricultural community of Oxnard, California. Read more at Grist

Defying Trump, 5 Automakers Lock In a Deal on Greenhouse Gas Pollution 08-17-20

The five — Ford, Honda, BMW, Volkswagen and Volvo — sealed a binding agreement with California to follow the state’s stricter tailpipe emissions rules. Read more at The New York Times

Traffic Is Way Down Because Of Lockdown, But Air Pollution? Not So Much 05-19-20

Ozone Pollution Has Decreased Only Slightly During The Pandemic Read more at NPR

The world is on lockdown. So where are all the carbon emissions coming from? 04-27-20

Pedestrians have taken over city streets, people have almost entirely stopped flying, skies are blue (even in Los Angeles!) for the first time in decades, and global CO2 emissions are on-track to drop by … about 5.5 percent. Read more at Grist

U.S. Air Quality Decreased in Recent Years, Study Finds 04-21-20

Nearly half of America’s population lives in places where they are exposed to unhealthy air. For a deeper dive: NPR, CNN, ABC

How Big Oil and Big Soda kept a global environmental calamity a secret for decades 03-03-20

Every human on Earth is ingesting nearly 2,000 particles of plastic a week. Read more at Rolling Stone

Federal Bill Seeks to Make Companies Responsible for Plastic Waste 02-10-20

The legislation, to be introduced Tuesday, has little chance of becoming a law, but the effort shows the increased influence of environmental groups in taking on recycling issues. Read more at The New York Times

Environmental groups, scientists say DEQ’s air monitoring program fails the sniff test 01-24-20

Because DEQ limited air monitor sites to meet EPA criteria, they were too far from hog farms to accurately measure their emissions. Read more at NC Policy Watch

BlackRock joins pressure group taking on biggest polluters 01-09-20

World’s largest investor signs up to Climate Action 100+ after criticism from activists Read more at The Guardian 


The Story of Plastic: New Film Exposes the Source of Our Plastic Crisis 10-12-19

Prigi Arisandi, who founded the environmental group Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation, picks through a heap of worn plastic packaging in Mojokerto, Indonesia. Read more at EcoWatch

Meat, dairy producers face investor criticism over emissions 09-04-19

Key subject areas include greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), deforestation and the use of antibiotics. Read more at Just Food

‘It smells like a decomposing body’: North Carolina’s polluting pig farms 08-27-19

After years of burying neighbours’ complaints about illegal spraying of hog manure, state officials suddenly began posting them online. What changed? Read more at The Guardian

Pennsylvania power plant to stop coal ash pollution, pay $1 million fine 07-31-19

The Brunner Island plant near Harrisburg, long-criticized for pollution problems, will enter into a legal agreement to end water pollution from coal ash pits Read more at Bay Journal

A Storm Brews Over South Portland’s Oil Industry and Fumes From Its Tank Farms 07-30-19

Activists in this coastal Maine city beat back a tar sands pipeline. Now, fearing for their community’s health, they’re rallying residents for a larger fight. Read more at Inside Climate News

EPA: Factory Farms Don’t Need to Report Emissions 07-02-19

Environmental groups say a new rule from the agency eliminates one of the only tools providing communities near CAFOs with information about toxic substances in the air. Read more at Civil Eats

EPA exempts farms from reporting pollution tied to animal waste 06-05-19

A new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would lift requirements for major farms to report the pollution they emit through animal waste. Read more at The Hill

Challenge from Clean Air Groups Forces NC Wood Pellet Factory to Install Pollution Controls 06-03-19

Enviva Biomass Plant Under Construction in Richmond County Agrees to Reduce Smog-Forming Pollutant by 95 Percent Read more at Environmental Integrity Project

Residents of NC Neighborhood Collect Their Own Air-Pollution Data 05-30-19

A Mecklenburg County community air-pollution monitoring project is highlighting how housing discrimination affects the health of predominantly African-American residents. Read more at Public News Service

The Battle Over Air Quality near Factory Farms on Maryland’s Eastern Shore 05-20-19

Residents of the Delmarva Peninsula and community advocates say the poultry industry is thwarting their efforts to monitor harmful air pollution from chicken farms. Read more at Civil Eats

Pittsburgh’s air quality continues to decline, new report finds 04-24-19

Once again, Pittsburgh scored all F’s on the American Lung Association’s annual air quality report card—and pollution is getting worse instead of better. Read more at Environmental Health News

Growing Corn Is A Major Contributor To Air Pollution, Study Finds 04-01-19

You’ve probably heard statistics about how our diet affects the health of the planet. Like how a beef hamburger takes considerably more water and land to produce than a veggie burger, or that around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions stem from food production. Read more at KUOW

Rail Travel Is Cleaner Than Driving or Flying, but Will Americans Buy In? 04-01-19

Passenger rail is around three times more efficient than a car on a passenger-mile basis at current occupancy levels. Read more at EcoWatch

As Houston choked on toxic fumes, Texas legislators targeted air quality programs 03-27-19

After storage tanks at Intercontinental Terminals Company’s chemical facility in Deer Park, just 15 miles southeast of Houston, caught fire the previous weekend, the fourth-largest city in the country was blanketed by smoke. Read more at Grist

Move over bacon: Poultry farms are taking over North Carolina 02-13-19

New analysis finds there are now more than twice as many large-scale poultry farms than industrial hog farms in North Carolina, bringing about new pollution concerns. Read more at Environmental Health News

How a group of Charleston kids spoke out against plastic, and won 01-27-19

When the activists presented the hundreds of signatures they collected in support of banning single-use plastic, one of their moms proudly pointed out their names were all written in crayon. Read more at the Post and Courier

Lawrence reborn: A polluted mill town reclaims its future 01-11-19

Residents of New England’s former mill towns often feel left behind after manufacturers leave town. But in Lawrence, Mass., locals have refused to let abandoned buildings and polluted landscapes define their future. Read more at The Christian Science Monitor

Coal Ash Is Contaminating Groundwater in at least 22 States, Utility Reports Show 01-18-19

So far, utilities have acknowledged the presence of enough health-harming contaminants like arsenic to trigger cleanup rules at 70 coal-fired power plant sites. Read more at Inside Climate News

U.S. Carbon Pollution Surged in 2018, After Years of Stasis 01-08-19


It’s an ominous sign for America’s ability to meet its goals under the Paris Agreement on climate change. Read more at The Atlantic


Trump’s EPA concludes communities don’t have the right to know about potentially toxic emissions 10-31-18

Industry supporters describe potentially toxic emissions as “normal odors” from animal waste.

What factory farm owners portray as “normal odors” from animal waste can cause serious harm to farmers and the residents who live near these large industrial operations. Read more at Think Progress

U.S. Air Pollution Deaths Nearly Halved Over Two Decades 10-19-18

The number of deaths related to air pollution in the United States shrank by 47 percent between 1990 and 2010, dropping from 135,000 per year to 71,000, according to new research. Read more at Yale Environment 360

E.P.A. to Disband a Key Scientific Review Panel on Air Pollution 10-11-18

WASHINGTON — An Environmental Protection Agency panel that advises the agency’s leadership on the latest scientific information about soot in the atmosphere is not listed as continuing its work next year, an E.P.A. official said. Read more at The New York Times

Swollen NC rivers swamp dumps, raising water pollution fears 09-17-18

Carolina’s swollen rivers were beginning to swamp coal ash dumps and low-lying hog farms Sunday,As rain from Florence continued to lash the Carolinas, the region’s swollen rivers were beginning to swamp coal ash dumps and low-lying hog farms Sunday, raising pollution concerns. Read more at the Tampa Bay News

In Hurricane Florence’s Path: Giant Toxic Coal Ash Piles 09-12-18

The toxic waste from coal-burning power plants contains arsenic and heavy metals. Days of torrential rain and flooding could weaken and collapse the impoundments.

Dozens of toxic coal ash piles across the Southeast are in the path of what is forecast to be days of torrential rains and flash flooding from Hurricane Florence. Read more at Inside Climate News

Toxic: Life in the shadows of major pollution sources 08-30-18

Tammie Smith has been back in North Birmingham’s Acipco-Finley neighborhood for just a year, but the 54-year-old has lived in that community nearly all of her life, except for 13 years when she lived in Louisville, Ky.

“My mom stays next door, my grandmother stays next door, and my sister lives across the street,” she said during a recent interview in the community. 30-18

Read more at Birmingham Times

A Leader in the War on Poverty Opens a New Front: Pollution 08-24-18

A pastor is resurrecting the Poor People’s Campaign, a movement started by Martin Luther King Jr. He sees the climate and environment as issues on par with poverty and racism.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The air in the Shiloh Baptist Church was thick with the heat of human bodies. The crowd, a mix of black and white faces, filled the pews in what was ostensibly the black side of town, straining the capacity of this good-sized church. Read more at The New York Times

How Energy Companies and Allies Are Turning the Law Against Protesters 08-22-18

In at least 31 states, lawmakers and governors have introduced bills and orders since Standing Rock that target protests, particularly opposition to pipelines.

The activists were ready for a fight. An oil pipeline was slated to cross tribal lands in eastern Oklahoma, and Native American leaders would resist. The Sierra Club and Black Lives Matter pledged support. Read more at Inside Climate News

New York City Just Took Historic Step Toward Cutting Its Top Source Of Climate Pollution 08-20-18

Legislation announced Monday focuses on big buildings, and it could set a new standard for cities around the world.

A top New York City lawmaker announced a bill Monday to mandate dramatic energy use cuts in big buildings, by far the biggest source of carbon dioxide, in a historic move that could set a new standard for cities around the world. Read more at HuffPost

California’s carbon emissions are back to ’90s levels. It can be done, people! 07-12-18

California’s carbon emissions are back to where they were when Macaulay Culkin was battling burglars and MC Hammer first told us we couldn’t touch this. Read more at Grist

Dirty air can harm your brain and stress the body 04-26-18

Studies show pollution can alter brain function in students and disrupt hormones. Science News for Students

Tolls on downtown streets? Seattle mayor pushes for plan to cut traffic, greenhouse gases 04-04-18

Seattle will develop a plan to toll city roadways as part of its efforts to reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse-gas emissions, Mayor Jenny Durkan said Tuesday. Details of what such a plan might look like are sparse, and will hinge on a tolling study focused on downtown neighborhoods that should have initial results later this year. Read more at The Seattle Times

With a Green Makeover, Philadelphia Is Tackling Its Stormwater Problem 03-29-18

In a major initiative, Philadelphia is building an extensive network of rain gardens, green roofs, wetlands, and other infrastructure to capture stormwater. The goal is to prevent runoff from overwhelming sewers and polluting waterways and to help green America’s fifth-largest city. Read more at Yale Environment 360

Hurricane Harvey’s toxic impact deeper than public told 03-22-18

A toxic onslaught from the nation’s petrochemical hub was largely overshadowed by the record-shattering deluge of Hurricane Harvey as residents and first responders struggled to save lives and property. Read more at The Associated Press

Up in Smoke 03-08-18

Each year, the Earth’s trees suck more than a hundred billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That’s an impossibly huge number to consider, about 60 times the weight of all the humans currently on the planet. Read more at Grist

Fowl air? Lawmakers propose study to begin tracking air pollution from Maryland chicken farms 02-09-18

The rise of industrial-scale chicken houses on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in recent years has raised questions about their impact on residents’ health. Legislation pending in the General Assembly seeks to answer one of them: What are they putting into the air? Read more at The Baltimore Sun


Cold War-era military site continues to pollute fish and Yupik people 12-4-17

Despite decades of cleanup, a former Cold War-era military station on St. Lawrence Island continues to pollute fish, and researchers say the indigenous Yupik people near the site are likely being harmed as well. Read more at Environmental Health News

Hog waste-to-gas: Renewable energy or more hot air and pollution? 11-16-17

Biogas could clean up manure and mitigate methane; but economics and inconsistent regulations remain hurdles

On a school night in early spring, a rowdy collection of environmental activists, local residents, and Duke University faculty and students packed a public forum, railing against the school’s plan to build a new $55-million gas plant on campus. Read more at Environmental Health News

Coca-Cola increased its production of plastic bottles by a billion last year, says Greenpeace 10-2-17

Increase puts Coke’s production at more than 110bn single-use plastic bottles a year, according to analysis by the green group

Coca-Cola increased its production of throwaway plastic bottles last year by well over a billion, according to analysis by Greenpeace. Read more at The Guardian

Air Pollution Denial Is the New Climate Denial 03-20-17

The latest right-wing lie is even crazier than the supposed global warming “hoax.” But it’s gaining influence in the Trump administration. Read more at New Republic

Making America Polluted Again 03-08-17

In 1971, the EPA launched Documerica, a project to capture images of environmental problems, EPA activities and everyday life in America. Read more at Earth Justice

Dell is turning pollution into products 02-22-17

Dell Technologies is trying to glean something useful from the eight million U.S. tons of plastic that ends up in the world’s oceans every year. Read more at IT Business

Say Goodbye to Coal-Free Streams 02-17-17

President Trump has officially killed the Office of Surface Protection’s Stream Mining Rule, as he signed legislation undoing the Obama era protection Thursday. Read more on EcoWatch

The Top-22 Air Polluters Revealed 01-02-17

A small number of industrial facilities emit an enormous share of toxics and greenhouse gases. Read more on Scientific American